A day for art

Today I had a wonderful time at the National Gallery of Art. Roger has a colleague who, when he retired, became a docent at the National Gallery of Art and he offered to give me a private tour. The first wonderful thing is that he picked me up at the hotel – I didn’t have to look for a place to park at the metro station. The second wonderful thing is that we got there early, before the museum was open. Because our friend is a docent, he was able to take me in early and we had the chance to see some pieces before there were other people around. We took a quick 2.5 hour tour of both buildings. He normally does school tours, pre K through 12 but we had a great time looking at some of his favorite paintings and sculptures in the West building before he took me into the East building to look at the abstracts I had asked to see.

The reason I asked to see the abstracts is because I want to explore abstraction in my Journal Quilt piece for the Houston quilt show in November. I usually do very representational work but I want to try something different this time. I came away with many photographs and some great inspiration, as well as two interesting perspectives on creating abstract art. Sol LeWitt thought that the idea was the art and gave directions for his art to be executed by others. Sometimes the directions were explicit, sometimes more general. Here is Wall Drawing #65. “Lines not short, not straight, crossing and touching, drawn at random using four colors, uniformly dispersed with maximum density, covering the entire surface of the wall”. The work is done in colored pencil.
Wall Drawing #65 detailwall Drawing #65
Jasper Johns thought that the process involved in his paintings meant as much or more than the reference value of the painting itself. I was not allowed to photograph any of his works but there are plenty of examples on line. There’s a lot I don’t get about abstract art. Sometimes that’s just the point.

After the Gallery, I walked across the mall to the new Indian Museum. It is a beautiful building on the outside and very different on the inside. It is not arranged in a conventional manner by region or time line as one would expect. It is arranged instead using three major themes: beliefs, history, and contemporary life. Within each of these themes are small vingettes of specific tribes from all over the Americas. It was interesting, especially the first hand accounts and oral traditions, but a bit disconcerting to find your way the first time around.
Indian Museum
I managed to find my way back to the metro without incident and safely back to the hotel. The day was sunny and 50 degrees – a wonderful day to be out on the mall in Washington DC.


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